10 Things You Should Know About Breathing
Written by Kirsten Ahrendt
Let’s focus on moving the needle in the right direction with something that’s super easy to do…BREATHING! Say it with me now, “low – hanging – fruit”. By now you’ve undoubtedly heard at least one Invictus coach discuss breathing with you – it may have come in many forms:
– a breath hold while you run in place during a warm-up
– they poked you in your sides and asked you to breathe down to their hands
– they asked you to run only as fast as you can while nasal breathing
– they asked you to take violent, powerful exhales between sprint sets
– they put you through a 4-7-8 down regulation breathing protocol during cool-down
All of these things are awesome. But wouldn’t it be nice to understand some context on why we harp on breathing so much? One reason that we cue you to keep your knees relatively inline with your big toe when you squat is because if it drifts in, it places unnecessary strain on crucial ligaments in the knee and exposes you to a higher knee injury risk.
As with squatting, let’s review some context of the why, how and what of breathing and its impact on health and performance so that you can maximize buy-in and utilize tools on your own.
“What’s so important about breathing? I do it every day. I’m still alive. Oxygen in. Carbon Dioxide out. End of story. Let’s go HAM, coach!”
Hold your nose hairs, buttercup.
Breathing is akin to running. Many of us can jog our bodies from from point A to point B. By no means does that mean we are running optimally, efficiently, or in a manner that will allow us to do so pain free for years to come, maximizing health benefits. The same holds true for breathing. Sure, you’re alive – but paying attention to and changing how you breathe (in life and fitness) can lead to some serious health impacts as well as performance gains.
10 Things You Should Know About Breathing
- Incorporating nasal breathing in your daily life and fitness will increase your CO2 tolerance, which contributes to higher aerobic endurance and increased VO2 max. #GAINZ
- Inhaling through your nose connects you to your lower lungs and diaphragm, where many receptors for your parasympathetic nervous system are. It’s 2020, we all need to chilllllllll and nasal breathe.
- Breathing through your nose stimulates the release of nitric oxide in your body – a vasodilator that lowers blood pressure, and has other health impacts – like sexual arousal. Nostrils are sexy.
- Mouth breathing causes the body to lose 40% more water than nasal breathing leading to not only dehydration, but changes in areas of the brain, responses of vital organs and cells, and storage of vital minerals and vitamins in our body. Read: “Why is Hydration so Important?”
- Chronic insomnia has been linked to breathing patterns (spoiler alert – breathing through your mouth at night basically suffocates you)
- How you breathe (mouth vs nasal) impacts the soft tissues of your mouth and nasal cavity, changing the shape of your jaw and face
- Overbreathing (yes, it’s a thing) affects lung function, airways, blood pressure, and blood pH level – each with their own trickledown health impacts. It is estimated that over 1/4 of the modern population is overbreathing.
- Breathing through your nose filters impurities and germs from your air. #NostrilsarestrongerthanCOVID
- Your left and right nostril connect to opposite hemispheres of your brain and trigger opposing responses from your autonomic nervous system.
- Breathing more optimally by gaining full access to your diaphragm, will contribute to a stronger brace for life and lifting.
Exploring how you breathe is my number one coaching suggestion – not just when you’re at the gym, but the other 23 hours of your day. How do you breathe when you’re frustrated with your kids, stressed by work, sleeping, walking the dog, out for a jog to destress, or wearing your mask all day?
It might not seem sexy, and it’s certainly not overly complicated – but learning to breathe more optimally is seriously low hanging fruit when it comes to health and performance. It’s so foundational, that most of us completely ignore it. Join me as I roll out more content and experiments for you to incorporate.
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